As from Monday, any developer can access most of Lightship software toolkit for free.

Niantic, best known for creating Pokemon Go -one of the most successful mobile games ever- is also committing $20 million to fund new companies building AR apps. (Source: Niantic)
Niantic, best known for creating Pokemon Go -one of the most successful mobile games ever- is also committing $20 million to fund new companies building AR apps. (Source: Niantic) ()

Niantic is releasing a platform for building what it calls “real-world metaverse” apps, stitching together the digital and the real world.

Called Lightship, the platform will let mobile apps identify whether a user’s camera is pointed at the sky or water, map the surfaces and depth of an environment in real time, or place a virtual object behind a physical one.

Niantic, best known for creating Pokemon Go -one of the most successful mobile games ever- is also committing $20 million to fund new companies building AR apps.

The company is “opening the vault of tech that we’ve been using to build our products” to help others build “planet-scale AR apps,” CEO John Hanke says.

As from Monday, any developer can access most of Lightship software toolkit for free.

Niantic, however, will charge for a feature that can let multiple devices access shared AR experiences simultaneously.

READ MORE: Introducing the next generation of the internet: the metaverse

Major update underway

Niantic is already planning a major update to Lightship for next year, building what Hanke calls a “visual positioning system” for AR glasses.

By using the new system, glasses with displays in them will be able to understand exactly where they are in the real world, which will let virtual objects (such as a Pikachu) stay anchored persistently to real-world locations. It’s a critical component needed to make AR glasses, such as the kind that Niantic is building with Qualcomm, useful.

Hanke, who previously ran Google Maps before starting Niantic, is against the idea of technology pulling people out of the real world.

Unlike the VR metaverse championed by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, he wants Niantic and Lightship developers building AR apps that keep people engaged with the physical.

READ MORE: Zuckerberg to name Facebook's parent company as 'Meta'
“There’s a fork in the road,” he says. “One path goes in this direction of apps that are not connected to the world around us and not helping us connect with the people who we are around.”

The other path Niantic is taking with Lightship, according to Hanke, is “encouraging people to do things together with other folks who are alive.”

Source: TRTWorld and agencies